This is a very controversial, well can be, topic in school.
To give or not to give? Well, I stand on the give side. I actually love homework. I think that homework in kindergarten provides them with the routine at home for studying, practicing working at home, and gives their parents that relationship to build a bridge between school and home. I’ve had parents ask so many times how they can help there child at school. Complete everything that I give you in the homework binder. What do I include? Here’s a quick look into my kids’ homework binders this year.
I make the binder something that becomes a staple. From the beginning, I include a bag of books, an alphabet chart, numbers, color words (depending on the child), the homework, weekly assessment sheet and a snappy word ring (sight words).
This bag is the reason that I use a binder. My former principal purchased these for the student pencil bags, but they are HUGE. They came with a strip inside of it to hang in crates. We ended up using them to store headphones. I also used them to store books to go home. They are kinder proof (well almost), big enough to store readers AND almost waterproof. The material that the white part is made of pretty much allows liquids to roll right off. I don't worry much about spilled water in backpacks getting on the books. My kids get new books every week. They can choose to read which ever book that they like at home. This is ALWAYS a hit to see which books they'll get next.
I send home a letter with the homework binder explaining all of the parts. As certain students master certain skills, I’ll take it out of their binders and replace it with new things. When a child has mastered the letter names and sounds, I usually add in a nonsense word fluency sheet and a letter naming sheet to practice on their fluency. We are starting DIBELS again this year so I’ll be doing this in a few weeks.
The homework sheets are actually the morning work sheets from The Printable Princess.
I take out the 1-10 numbers and add in 11-20 when students are ready for these. As the year progresses, I may change this to a hundreds chart. I provide parents with ideas on how to use the 100’s chart. They may circle a number and tell the child to count on, play a guessing game with what number am I thinking of (greater than, less than), count by 10’s and so on. The homework binder ends up being individualized for that particular student. Everyone’s looks the same, but what’s inside is a little bit different.
The snappy word ring is the same way. I use Rainbow Words from Hello Literacy. In the past, I went with her word list. This year, used the editable versions and made my own lists that go with our progression. I added the first 14 words as RED words. With rainbow words, they will work on a group of words until they have mastered all of the words. Then, they get a new set of words added to their ring in the next rainbow color. They are trying to make a rainbow of words. I like this MUCH better because it is individualized as well. I don’t have to worry about putting too much on my students that can’t learn them as fast as others. Yet, I can push my higher kids to learn more words and be exposed to more words while they are with me. This system worked wonders when I first used it two years ago. I tried something quite different last year, but decided to use this in my tweaked version this year.
This is the assessment sheet that I have from a few years ago. I forgot to snap a picture of the current one and this just so happened to be at home. A few years ago, our team decided that we wanted to hold parents and students accountable for the skills we were learning every week. We came up with a quick and easy assessment. I keep it in their folders. It lists five weeks of skills. I have a letter skills which will eventually change and show the word family, blends or whatever phonics skill we are on. I have a math skill. It currently has number identification. I also list the sounds. On Friday mornings during our Golden Ticket Free Play time, my kids are playing and I have free time to assess them one-on-one. It’s super quick and I just put a check next to each thing that they mastered. If it is not mastered, I just highlight it. The parents have to initial on the following Monday that they’ve seen it. This helps parents to help their children at home. It’s really difficult to jot down what parents need to help their child with week by week and be specific. I can tell a parents that Jessie need to work on sounds, but when they see that /m/ and /p/ are highlighted, they can work on those two sounds. This is also VERY helpful for me when report card time rolls around. I pull these sheets back out and refer to them. I can see if there is a trend, what I need to focus on with certain kids as I’m planning for the next week and so much more.
That’s pretty much it. I love sending home homework and hope that whatever makes you happy is the decision that you should use for homework with their kids. Do ALL of my kids do homework nightly? Of course not. I think it makes them accountable.